Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thanksgiving and Weihnacht's Preparations

Thanksgiving Dinner

        We decided it would be fun to prepare Thanksgiving for the YSA’s, and of course, for us it is one of our favorite holidays. We decided to have it on the Monday before Thanksgiving as a Family Home Evening. Normally on FHE the Elders and Sisters are only allowed to come when they have an investigator with them, but this time we decided to invite them to come.
        Of course no Thanksgiving would be complete without turkey and all of the trimmings, so we went a week before to our neighborhood grocery store to order the turkey. They eat quite a bit of turkey here so we didn’t think there would be any problem getting one (or two). The man in the meat department told us they had plenty of turkey breasts, but weren’t sure they could even get a whole turkey before the day that we needed them. So it was off to Citti Markt, a huge Costco type of store, where we had seen all kinds of frozen poultry. There we were able to buy two good sized turkeys (each about 13 lbs costing $28 dollars each.). We bought potatoes, bread and other items for stuffing them. We also bought a 20 lb. bag of potatoes for mashing. Elder Frank said he would be happy to make homemade rolls. We also remembered that we had a can of Libby’s Pumpkin in the pantry at the Institute. The Sister Missionaries said they would bring green beans and one of our YSA women said she would cook a green bean casserole.

It's all smiles as we prepare the Thanksgiving Meal.
Gravy and dressing and more turkey to come.

Elder Frank's homemade rolls
Sabine and Victor helping in the kitchen.
One turkey ready, stuffing roasting on the top rack.

Tonya (Russia) and Jules (USA - Provo, UT)
Our Thanksgiving group
Everyone's had their fill
Elder Gerhardson helps with dishes
        We knew we would need to use our oven at home and the oven at the Institute. We made the pumpkin pies on Sunday evening. Even though I had to use butter for making the crusts, they turned out to be really good, albeit a little bit rich with the whipping cream on top.
        When Monday arrived, we made the stuffing at our apartment, even using fresh roasted chestnuts. We decided not to stuff the turkeys, but rather to bake the stuffing in casserole trays. We had thought through everything down to the most minute details, but It literally took us all day getting ready peeling potatoes and cutting them up, making the stuffing, roasting the turkeys and making the rolls, gravy, etc. We even set the tables with placemats and had sunflower centerpieces. We were sure we had thought of everything, but as it was, we didn’t have room for baking the yams, so we went without. We didn’t have any cranberry sauce because we couldn’t find it in the stores here. In addition, we needed every possible burner, oven, and even the microwave for cooking and keeping everything warm. Also, Jorge, one of our JSA’s brought a wonderful k√§sekuchen with him. He makes the best we’ve tasted--anywhere.  All in all, it was a great evening and we hope everyone enjoyed it because afterwards we were exhausted.

Christmas Preparations: Zone Conference

        Our "Christmas" zone conference was special.  Since we changed to having individual zone meetings (held in Kiel) we hadn't gotten together for a large multi zone conference until Nov. 27 in Hamburg.  It started the holidays in a great way.  The President's and his wife and several missionaries gave inspirational talks and lessons on obedience, teaching,  and always the savior.  There were also several Christmas musical numbers   The meal was a Subway Sandwich (may not seem very Christmas-like but the missionaries loved them), a chocolate santa and a gift (white elephants brought by each missionary).

President and Sister Kosak 
Elder and Sister Neslen (Senior missionaries Hamburg YSA) 
We love Zone Conference too!
Senior missionaries from the different zones... and Elder Spendlove.
(L. to R.) E. & S. Smith, S.  Neslen, E. & S. Wilhelm, E. Neslen, Franks and Spendlove
Lunch in Hamburg Stake cultural hall
Sister eating together, of course.
Santa and Mrs. Santa (LOL) 
Everyone playing musical white elephant.
Elder Clayton and Elder Lloyd in his white elephant Santa outfit.
 Christmas Preparations:  Weihnachtsmarkt

        We know you are all getting ready for “Christmas” at home with your decorations and shopping. Maybe you're already finished. For the most part Christmas is the same here in Germany, but there are some things that are different and really fun. Here in Germany there are little Christmas Shops in all of the cities called “Weihnachtsmarkt.” These town markets that spring up in late November through December include little cabin-type shops that are decked with pine boughs and lights that line many of the shopping streets. The fronts of these little markets are open to display all of their different foods or wares and they give such a festive atmosphere to the cities. Plus, they have all different kinds of fun things to buy or just look at (some of the prices are too expensive). Of course, we decided that we needed to get our shopping done in a hurry, since we haven’t had time to go shopping and we knew their would be a deadline for shipping packages to the USA in time to arrive for Christmas. After several afternoons, we finally finished our purchases. It just so happened that when we went the Post to get them mailed they said it was a good thing because that day was the deadline….a small but great blessing for us.

This Weihnachtsmarkt wasn't quite ready yet.
Here is the real thing, all decked out.
After an afternoon's shopping.
Can we go back to the apartment now?
Kids love the lights and toys.

Preparing for the Message
        As missionaries, our thoughts during this season include the spiritual preparations we need to make to show our Savior that we are truly believers in Him, doers of His word in thoughts and example. He is The Savior of the World, Our Redeemer, Our Older Brother, Our Perfect Example, and we need to be striving to show him that as his disciples we know this. As missionaries, we feel the joy this knowledge brings to us, as well as the joy it brings to those who are willing to hear His words. He was born to take upon Him the sins of the world so that we might live again with Him and our Heavenly Father. He completed His mission through the atonement and his death and resurrection. We wish to share our testimony of the truthfulness of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is true! It is the greatest gift and blessing any one of us has ever received or will receive. The Book of Mormon is a witness of it’s truthfulness and was translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith through the power of God. It’s teachings can increase our understanding of our relationship to God, increase our ability to love and obey our Savior, give us a better understanding of our relationships to our families, our friends and neighbors. This is our wish for each of you this Christmas…to know these things are true. We send our warmest greetings to our family, friends, and anyone else reading this blog. May the Lord bless you and help you in your preparations for the Christmas season.

About Us

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Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
We have been called to serve the Lord in Germany as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (sometimes referred to as the Mormons). We are witnesses to the Savior, Jesus Christ, who has blessed our lives in every way. We hope to help others in their efforts to find true joy and happiness in their lives and in the lives of their families.